Yep, it’s happened, I’ve become so overwhelmed with my writing that I’ve had to take a break. It’s time for the massive revision to start on my massive YA novel; a revision that will involve cutting the story in half. It is a daunting task, but oddly enough, I’m excited about it. I enjoy challenge, especially if I know its moving me closer to my goal; but at the moment… I’m pooped.
I’ve spent 16 emotional months pouring my soul into a story that in my humble opinion (as well as some professionals), is pretty damn good. It’s been one hell of a journey that has taken me places I only dreamed about. I discovered in the process that I’m more method with my writing than I am my acting. I dove headfirst into the story and my research, even dragging one of my best buds and our children with us to the Navajo nation to experience the culture and landscape. I swam in the minds of the characters I created and took myself back to the angst filled memories of my teen years (and then threw some mystical powers and skinwalkers on top of them). I’ve edited the manuscript over and over (not to mention the actual editor that went through it), and pushed my critique group to the limits of their generosity (I owe them a really nice cruise– so please, Miss Agent, get me a good advance). But as I mentioned before, I’m exhausted.
Summer has started and despite my pleading, the school wouldn’t stay open for just my boys. Summer vacation is cruel and unusual punishment for a mom of three boys who are all “scary smart” when it comes to hatching plans of mischief; and all have varying levels of ADHD to give them the energy to carry out those plans. Our house is also being remodeled, and I’m so busy now that I don’t know if I found a rope or lost a horse. Life is chaotic and I had to choose something to take a break from. Unfortunately, there seems to be some laws somewhere about leaving your kids at the zoo (something about “abandonment”); so I had to suck it up and take it where it hurts– my writing.
I went through the synopsis of my novel one last time with the critique group and hatched a plan on how to revise/cut it to where it needs to be in word count and still keep the heart of the story. It works well, because it essentially leaves me with the second book of the series near completion; but it is still a lot of work to get the first book back into a finished/stand-alone piece. So after hatching my new outline, I stepped back and took a deep breath. Now it was time to rest my brain for a little while; and what’s the best way to do that… start another book.
Yes, that’s what I did. I took an idea that had been popping in and out during inconvenient times when I was editing my novel, and I threw it on paper. The first line had hit me hard and fast and the rest just kept flowing. Soon I had an outline, a cast of characters and a first chapter; and what was great about the excercise was that it really felt like I was taking a break. It was play in the purest sense. I jumped into this wonderful world I’ve just recently become exposed to called “steampunk”, and I like it– ALOT!
I’m writing a dirty, gritty, violent, sci-fi western who’s reluctant hero is a teenage madam. I’m not thinking about trying to tame my language or my imagery for an audience. I’m just writing and going back to what it felt like before I became overloaded with the rules: show don’t tell, no “ly” words and all those other things they tell you not to do. The only rule I’m keeping is based on word count and that’s because I’m challenging myself to try a more abbreviated style. (This baby will not exceed 65k words– period!) I’m also challenging myself by writing in third person (I’ve only done this in picture books), and I WILL have the first draft finished by the end of summer.
What you’re probably wondering is “how the hell is that a break?’ I’m not sure I can explain it, other than when I’m in this new world where I can make up anything I want, I’m alive again. It’s how I feel when I’m riding a rollercoaster or a horse. How I feel taking tight corners in an M3 convertible. It’s how I feel when I’m not censoring myself or worrying about what people think. It’s the feeling of being authentic in the moment and honest with yourself and the world. It’s when you fully embrace the gift you have and you use it with a passion. It is truth, beauty, freedom and love (yes, Moulin Rouge had it right).
And the best thing about this break; the more I connect to myself, the more I connect to my children and husband. I’ve become more excited about having them in my life. I forget about the red popsicle I found on my favorite rug, and I jump into their games and help them plan their next cookie heist. I can’t wait for my husband to come home; and instead of groaning about the money he spent on the new TV’s and Blue-ray players, I enjoy that boyish excitement in his eyes as he shows me how “amazing” the picture is. I have reclaimed the energy I needed to run the house and still have my work. By taking a “break”, I realized I didn’t need one. In short, by falling back in love with my passion, I’ve fallen back in love with my life.
So there’s my thoughts for you to consider. Take a break. Reclaim your passion. Reclaim yourself. Fall in love again and see where it all can take you.